Sunday, 26 January 2014

Lava Planet Predator

Company: NECA
Series: Predators Series 10
Scale: 7”

RRP: $29.95-34.95

Sometimes, toy manufacturers often think it’s a great idea to make kid’s toys from properties that were originally intended for adults. Films like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and last year’s Man of Steel are recent examples, but in the 1980s and 1990s, it was much more pronounced. Admittedly some were based on more child-friendly cartoon versions (RoboCop, Rambo, Toxic Crusaders), but on viewing the original source material, you do have to wonder who was making some of these decisions…

Predator was one of these adult properties which scored itself a kid’s toyline in the mid-90s, alongside Aliens. I first became familiar with the Lava Planet Predator (and the Kenner line in general) only recently, via Dinosaur Dracula’sarticle on this unusual beast. So when I found out NECA was doing a series based on the Kenner Predators, I went into “must-have” mode, making very specific arrangements with my sisters to receive one of these bad boys for Christmas, some months in advance. Was he worth the wait? Read on to find out.


As mentioned in my previous review of the Nightstorm Predator, the box art on these guys is a tribute to the Kenner line – nice painted artwork, in a very 1990s style.

The bio is good fun too, suggesting that this Predator is one of a rare tribe who live in Yautja Prime’s volcanic area. So even as Predators go, this dude is pretty hardcore.  

(As a side note: As a kid who was into Star Wars, I used to ponder about canon and continuity, but these days I’m much more relaxed. Was it in the movie? Then it’s “real”. If it’s from something like a comic or novelisation, feel free to enjoy it, but don’t put a lot of stock in it – odds are high that it will be ignored or contradicted in future films. Your own thoughts on this are welcome in the comments below.)

Lava Planet Predator looks to be primarily based on the Jungle Hunter from series 8, with bits like the hands and feet presumably taken from various other Preds in the NECA line. Series 11 is about to drop, so they’ve got plenty of resources to draw from at this point. This isn’t a bad thing, as the fact that it’s moulded in translucent red plastic is enough to distinguish it from all of its forebears. Rarely has a Predator shone so brightly, as seen in this photo below:

Articulation-wise, this is what he’s got:
*ball-jointed neck

*peg and hinge shoulders

*peg and hinge elbows
*swivel waist

*ball-jointed hips
*double-hinged knees

*ball-jointed ankles
And you know what? All of it works! I had some concerns about this new Predator, as the other two NECA Preds I’ve bought have been awesome to look at, but definitely had their issues when it came to poseability. Still, so far the only issue is that his hips don’t move quite as well as I’d like, largely due to his loincloth getting in the way. I’d also watch how long you have him standing for, as NECA Preds are well-known for not being great at standing upright for extended periods.

As a side note, I don’t think his feet quite match. His right one looks a bit wider than the other, though it doesn’t seem to have caused him any standing difficulties.  

Lava Planet Predator comes with one detachable accessory – his machete. It’s a little tricky to get it in and out of his clenched hand, but it will stay put once it’s there.

Attached, he’s got two others – his extendable blade, and his shoulder cannon. The cannon is mounted on a balljoint and can be easily popped on and off. Unlike many of his Predator forebears, this one isn’t actually attached to a backpack. You’ll notice in some of these pictures that’s it’s not actually attached – it had popped off and I didn’t even notice until later, so be careful with it.
As for the claw, it’s very reminiscent of the original toy, which is quite different to the “standard” Predator dual blade. It’s more crescent-shaped, and can be slightly extended. However, the extended area isn’t painted, so it looks a little strange – this bad boy is going to stay shut for most of the time.  
Though it appears to be a separate piece of plastic, the mask is (unfortunately) not actually removable. The upside is that his eyes will glimmer if you shine a torch or other light source behind his head! Clever photographers will be able to milk this figure for a lot of cool effects.


There’s not a whole lot of paint to talk about here – there’s a camo/heat haze effect painted in a few spots on his body, and his weapons and mask are picked out in a reddish/pink metallic colour. Pretty much everything else is cast in translucent red plastic, which means it somewhat resembles a giant red lolly.
Fortunately, the stuff that is there is nicely detailed. Not a lot of slop, which is nice on a figure that probably could have got away with it pretty easily. The main issue (if it is one) is that the paint on the front half of the figure abruptly stops halfway around the shoulderpads, gauntlets etc (see photo below). Whether or not this is intentional is open to debate, but it does seem a little strange. One other review I read speculated that this may be representative of a camo effect, which is possible – but as that review also mentioned, it would have looked better if just fully painted. Fortunately, the helmet doesn’t seem to be affected by this issue – I suppose it was probably painted as a separate piece. 
I’ve been really happy with  the Kenner Predators, and I particularly like the Lava Planet Predator. He’s a well-crafted tribute to the original figure, while not looking like a terrible embarrassment to more modern sensibilities.

But I still haven’t picked up the Hive Wars Predator, and don’t plan to. I’m just not quite sold on him, possibly because he’s the least outlandish of the three that were released.  However, I could definitely see myself picking up some future Kenner-themed releases, if they arrive – as I mentioned in my Nightstorm Predator review, I’m still hanging for a glow in the dark Predator, who could duke it out with Nightfighter RoboCop. In the meantime, enjoy some 90s-style crossover madness with this shot of Lava Planet Predator duking it out with Batman, in the sewers below Gotham.

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